You have to have an alertness to deal with the unexpected. The history of science is filled with almost-made discoveries, missed by a hairline because ... [someone] didn't have the alertness to realize they had a discovery. — Clyde Tombaugh, astronomer, 1906-1997
IN TODAY'S SESSION... We heard a story about Clyde Tombaugh, a Unitarian Universalist who discovered Pluto, and we talked about our fourth Principle, a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Children learned how our faith affirms us to ask questions; investigate the world; and be open to new information, ideas, and truths, as Tombaugh would have done had he lived to see Pluto's 2006 "demotion" to dwarf planet status. Using modeling dough, we explored the scale of the planets in our universe. Our signpost to help guide us in faithful action was "Ask Questions."
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about... Invite each family member to share about a time you had to let go of a "truth" upon learning new information. Take turns filling in the blanks: "I used to believe ______, but then I learned ______ was true instead." Discuss how it has, or has not, been easy to accept new truths.
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Try... Pay extra attention to times when your child asks questions, shows curiosity, or otherwise actively seeks to learn. Point out instances of your child acting faithfully in a way that affirms or promotes a free and responsible search for truth and meaning — their own search, or others'. Your child will have the opportunity to share their actions next time Faithful Journeys meets.
Choose a topic that interests family members or a question you would like to have answered. Spend an evening in a library or online, learning everything you can about it. Challenge each person to learn at least one new thing (or five, if you are ambitious).
A FAMILY RITUAL
Gather as a family before an evening meal. Have each member of the family name something they are wondering about or something they learned that day. If you like, light candles as you share. Consider saying candle-lighting words that affirm asking questions, for example, "We give thanks for our curiosity and the answers it brings." Avoid editing or answering one another's questions, correcting information, or exchanging dialogue until everyone has shared. Where possible, provide resources and encourage family members to seek answers themselves. It is okay to validate questioning as a process that is as important, if not more important than, determining answers. (To keep this activity popular, avoid pressuring family members to do research every time a "wondering" is shared.)
A FAMILY GAME
Twenty Questions. One person thinks of a person, place or thing, and the others try to guess by asking questions that can be answered yes or no. For example: "Is this a person?" / "Is the person alive?" / "Is it a character from a book?" / "Is it a man?" If someone guesses correctly before twenty questions have been asked and answered, it is their turn to think of a person, place, or thing for others to guess.
Read the children's picture book Clyde Tombaugh and the Search for Planet X, by Margaret K. Wetterer (Carolrhoda Books, 1996).
The Astronomical Society of the Pacific's Family ASTRO program offers a multitude of activities with supporting resources, as well as online games and research tools.